Zoning Definitions

    15-minute neighbourhoods:

    15-minute neighbourhoods are compact, well-connected places with a clustering of a diverse mix of land uses where daily and weekly needs can be accessed within a 15-minute walk; this includes a range of housing types, shops, services, local access to food, schools and child care facilities, employment, greenspaces, parks and pathways. They are complete communities that support active transportation and transit, reduce car dependency, and enable people to live car-light or car-free. Ableism in zoning is the assumption that able bodies are the default. This can create barriers for those experiencing disabilities. For example, a zoning rule may “assume able bodies” if it does not allow walkways to be wide enough for those with accessibility aids to get around easily. 

    Built form

    Built form is the shape and configuration of buildings as well as their relationship to streets and open spaces. 


    Density is the level of use or activity over a given area. This is commonly measured in residential units, people, or jobs per hectare. Density is an important means of making the most of the land available, especially in urban areas where demand for access to land near transit, jobs, services and amenities is high. 

    Discriminatory zoning

    Discriminatory zoning is when subjects not appropriate as a matter of zoning are used as a means of excluding particular groups of people or forms of housing, with no direct relation to planning benefit. This could include people zoning, restrictions on permitted typologies of a building, tenure of a building (owned or rented), and income. 

    Equity lens

    Equity lensis an important tool to support the work of the City and helps us to be consistent and coherent in our efforts to move equity and inclusion forward in our services and policies to the benefit of our city. 

    Floor area

    Floor area the area of all floors of a building. 


    Massing is the basic size, shape, and form of a buildingA massing model or study is usually the earliest and simplest means of analyzing how a building will fit into its surroundings. Massing excludes things like fine details, materials, and entrances or windows.  

    Mobility poverty

    Mobility poverty describes the overall cost to move around a city. If that cost is too high relative to household income, a person may be prevented from participating fully in the economic, political and social life of the community. A mobility-rich neighbourhood is a 15-Minute Neighbourhood where kids can walk to school and recreation, where people have the option run a quick errand on foot, and people of all incomes can affordably access their needs.  

    People zoning

    People zoning is an attempt to regulate who lives in a neighbourhood, directly or indirectly. Factors such as age, race, religion, family status, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity or disability cannot be the basis for zoning. 

    Protected tree

    A “protected tree” is a tree for which a tree permit is always required for its removal. This is defined as: 

    • 30 centimetres (11.8 inches) or more on properties in the inner urban area (urban lands inside the Greenbelt). A tree with a diameter of 30 centimetres (11.8 inches) has a circumference of 94 centimetres (37 inches); and 

    • 50 centimetres (20 inches) or more on properties in the suburban area (urban lands outside the Greenbelt). A tree with a diameter of 50 centimetres (20 inches) has a circumference of 157 centimetres (62 inches). 

    R1-R5 Zoning

    R1-R5 Zoning is the current nomenclature for residential zoning used in Ottawa and includes over 120 sub-zones.  


    Setback is the required separation between a lot line (and/or right-of-way line) and a building or structure 

    Soil volume

    Soil Volume the volume of soil that is required to successfully support the roots and growth of a tree

    Surface water features

    Surface water features are water-related features on the earth’s surface, including headwater drainage features, rivers, stream channels, drains, inland lakes, seepage areas, recharge/discharge areas, springs, wetlands and associated riparian lands that can be defined by their soil moisture, soil type, vegetation or topographic characteristics, including fish habitat. 


    Transects are the six concentric policy areas the City is divided into in the new Official Plan. Each transect represents a different gradation in the type and evolution of built environment and planned function of the lands within it. Transects include Downtown Core, Inner Urban, Outer Urban, Greenbelt, Suburban, and Rural. 


    Typology refers to the categorization of buildings into types. For example, residential typologies include detached houses, triplexesapartments, or stacked dwellings. These types are based on specific criteria that such buildings have in common. “Typology” can be contrasted with “form”, which simply refers to building size.